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9:57AM

Vali Nasr blasts Obama foreign policy (and team) in new book

Cohen talks about it in a recent NYT column.  Pretty brutal depiction.

Nasr, as you may know, is respected expert on Iran and he spent two years working for State.

“IT is not going too far to say that American foreign policy has become completely subservient to tactical domestic political considerations.”

This stern verdict comes from Vali Nasr, who spent two years working for the Obama administration before becoming dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In a book called “The Dispensable Nation,” to be published in April, Nasr delivers a devastating portrait of a first-term foreign policy that shunned the tough choices of real diplomacy, often descended into pettiness, and was controlled “by a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers.”

I have little doubt in the verdict, but frankly, this is what the American people voted for in both 2008 and 2012: focus on the economy and temporize on foreign affairs.

Cohen agrees:

Nasr was led to the reluctant conclusion that the principal aim of Obama’s policies “is not to make strategic decisions but to satisfy public opinion.”

In this sense the first-term Obama foreign policy was successful: He was re-elected. Americans wanted extrication from the big wars and a smaller global footprint: Obama, with some back and forth, delivered. But the price was high and opportunities lost.

Lots of material on how Nasr's boss Holbrooke was dissed and marginalized - material sure to elicit a yawn.

Real point is not the realignment.  Again, the public wanted that and Obama delivered.

Real point is total lack of care regarding how it went down.  Doesn't really cost anything to make a decent effort but it was not made, to the point of marginalizing Clinton as SECSTATE whenever possible.

You get the feeling that Obama is big on control and having himself recognized constantly as the guy in charge and the smartest guy by far, so if foreign policy doesn't matter (after all, he got a Nobel for just being sworn in the first time), then he prefers non-action to any action that isn't attributed solely to his genius.

Cohen uses the word "petty" a lot, which is a sad commentary on Obama.

But the larger truth remains:  as long as people feel bad or weak on the economy (and most still do), there's no thought given to foreign policy and Obama knows that.

References (1)

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Reader Comments (2)

Abbas early on accused Obama of putting him out on the limb three times with his people then letting Netanyahu back him off.
Then there is the poll breaking a few days ago showing the Pakistani in the street rates Obama appreciably worse than Bush mostly for all the drone killing of innocents he is doing.
But he did resist Hillary's moving him into Syria or at least funding the terrorists thus far-after he apparently allowed her and her allies to render Libya asunder and spring the jihadists contained by Quadaffi to Mali.
And Israel, obviously can work with him despite the theatrics, their column here having neutered Hagel.

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteramspirnational

What are the odds he could do something in foreign policy if he wanted to?

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

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